Thursday, January 3, 2008

How Much Does the Government Spend ?

Think of a very high number, double it, and then add a few zeros.

In the UK, the government is forecast to spend in 2007-8 £557,400m or £557billion. (over 40% of GDP)

In the US, the government is forecast to spend £5,081 billion or 34% of GDP

For a break down of government spending in the UK, I updated a table with a few of the different departments. The biggest department, by far, is social security, which includes the different types of benefits - the backbone of the welfare state. The second biggest is health care

What % is spent on defence?

  • In the UK, only 2.5% or £32 billion. of GDP is spent on defence. This is the lowest % for a long time.
  • The US. spent £439 billion on military spending in 2007. This accounts for nearly 45% of total global military spending. However, as a % of GDP, it is not as high as some might imagine. It is 3.7%. Higher than most European countries such as France (2.5%) and UK. But lower than countries such as Saudi Arabia (10%)
  • In comparison, in 1983 during the cold war, military spending in the US was 6.1%
  • However, statistics can lie. The Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have largely been funded with supplementary spending not included in these figures. The US also has a black budget for military spending which is not included in these figures. For example, nuclear spending and pensions for war veterans is not included.


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